Reko Diq, a small town owned by ‘Mohammad Zia’ tribe in Chagai District in Baluchistan province – south-west of Pakistan, has proven gold and copper reserves worth US $260 billion and estimated gold and copper reserves worth US $3 trillion.
A Canadian and Chilean joint venture, the Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (Pvt) Limited (TCC), that holds an exploration licence in the region has furnished public discourse with estimates of gold and copper deposits.
“Based on their technical and feasibility studies, on which they claim to have spent over $220 million, they estimate the value of the deposits to be around $260 billion. This valuation is based on their long-term estimates of gold and copper prices in the international market.
At the same time, the company has expressed interest in mining and extracting the copper and gold deposits that they themselves have evaluated.”
Tcc Claims an investment of $3.3 billion will be required whereby unrefined gold and copper deposits will be siphoned from the mines to Gawadar through an underground pipeline and shipped to smelters around the world for refining.
However, The question that struck any sensible mind is the latency of exporting unrefined gold and copper through underground pipelines, transferring unrefined ores from the site to Gawadar for export. Another big enigma is that, despite of having necessary smelters for refining the minerals,why does the project needs such a ‘great deal’ of a foreign helping hand ?
Dr Samar Mubarakmand has filed a petitioin in the Supreme Court that Pakistan is self-sufficient and does not need foreign help to develop the Reko Diq mines. Contrary to it Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, has claimed that the Balochistan government expected to receive Rs 120 billion as gas development surcharge arrears from the federal government, which it would invest in the development of Reko Diq. Given the history of abuse of Balochistan’s resources by the Centre, the sensitivity to the project is at its peak.
The amount of budget required for this project ($ 500-550 billion) is something beyond the capacity of Balochistan government to raise. If indeed the provincial government were able to raise such money, Pakistan would need to hire foreign mining experts, which again would cost money. With the SC’s order to the provincial government not to issue a mining lease until a decision by the court, potential investors may be discouraged. Dr Samar Mubarakmand later notified, although the country has produced brilliant scientific minds, that does not make up for its lack of the latest technology as well as technical expertise for the development of a large-scale mining project such as Reko Diq. For all these reasons, a highly profitable project may go into vassalage.